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Headshot of Adam Chouinard in front of a tree.

Training the next generation of faculty in inclusive teaching practices

By Hannah Ashton

Adam Chouinard, a senior instructor in the Department of Integrative Biology, has received a $2.88 million grant from the National Science Foundation for a group project aimed at shifting the landscape of biology education on a national scale through graduate teaching professional development.

Chouinard will help host six regional “Evolving the Culture of Biology” workshops held over the next five years where administrators, STEM faculty and staff will learn effective evidence-based teaching practices that foster inclusion.

“Teaching plays a crucial role in how students perceive the process of science, but also the culture of science, such as whether or not they could be a scientist themselves someday,” he said. “We need to do everything we can to bring the broadest diversity of identities and experiences into science because that’s when science works best as a process and when it best serves society.”

After returning to their home institutions, the workshop participants will continue in a year-long structured learning community as they work to create or improve their programs for training graduate teaching assistants, or GTAs.

The researchers chose to focus on GTAs for several reasons. First and foremost, GTAs are responsible for a large portion of undergraduate instruction, Chouinard said. It’s vital to provide personal and professional support as they learn how to do the job.

“And as we support GTAs in their present jobs, we can simultaneously improve the quality of our current undergraduate instruction, all while training the next generation of faculty in evidence-based and inclusive teaching practices,” he said.

Throughout the funding period, the research team will also develop a catalog of curricula and resources for teaching professional development practitioners to adapt as needed. The final step of the process will include a research project, used to study the effectiveness and expected outcomes of the program.

The research team includes Chouinard; Erin Shortlidge, assistant professor of biology and biology education at Portland State University; Stephanie Gutzler, director of undergraduate studies in biology at Georgia State University; Kaleb Heinrich, assistant professor at the University of Alabama; Star Lee, assistant professor of teaching at University of California, Irvine; Mitra Asgari, assistant teaching professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri; and Deborah Lichti, instructional consultant at the University of Michigan.